Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Newsweek’s Web-Only Future: Inevitable, and a Whole Lot Smaller

Barry Diller has followed through and pulled the plug on Newsweek’s print edition, but he insists that the weekly magazine can survive as a tablet publication.

That doesn’t seem like the end game: If they make a go of it, they’ll be the first digital-only tablet magazine to succeed. For a convincing argument against that happening, see Felix Salmon.

Which leads you inevitably to a place where Newsweek exists only as a subsection of The Daily Beast, Diller and Tina Brown’s free Web site.

That one does have audience. In September, it attracted five million unique visitors in the U.S., per comScore.* But it’s a modest audience by Web standards. Time Inc.’s, for instance, drew 9.7 million in September. AOL’s Huffington Post had 38.6 million.

And if you want to compare Daily Beast to another newish site that mixes reported news, aggregation and irresistible click-bait, try this one: Henry Blodget’s Business Insider attracted 7.6 million uniques last month.**

But Blodget’s site has about 100 employees. Newsweek has 270, for now. That can’t last.

*IAC, citing internal stats from Omniture, says it has 15 million unique visitors. But that number includes international visitors, and the wide gap between the publisher’s numbers and comScore’s are fairly standard.

** I still own some shares in Silicon Alley Media, Business Insider’s predecessor company.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald